On January 29th, the Barnsley Chronicle published a letter by Michael Clynch, an architect from near Penistone, under the title ‘Can we still afford the luxury of green belt?’
Barnsley Green Party member Dale Turner has responded.
Dale Turner of Barnsley Green Party
Michael Clynch: Currently the Barnsley borough has 77% of its land designated green belt. Most of the land is agricultural, but much is of poor quality, of little visual value and often with oddly drawn boundaries which defy logic and common sense. Nationally only around 11% of land is actually built over including highways and railways. Much of the land has green belt status. The original purpose of green belt land was intended to prevent “ribbon developments” where developers bought up road frontage land connecting towns and villages. Build costs were low because highway access and drainage was freely available. Unfortunately green belt has achieved an almost religious status among Friends of the Earth and other unelected quangos and lobby groups who would prefer no development at all and certainly no housing where people would actually like to live.
Dale Turner: We should all be thankful that we are lucky enough to live in an area with such a high proportion of designated green belt.
As Michael mentioned the main purposes of green belt land are to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built up areas and to prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another. However there are other purposes which are to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment, to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns, and to assist in urban generation, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land. We must also remember that we share this planet and the land within it with other species and flora and fauna. Green belt land protects their habitat and allows the planet to provide enough oxygen for us human beings to thrive. So the more green belt land we build on, the less oxygen is provided for the human race to live harmoniously alongside the other species and flora and fauna of this planet. We are only one species amongst many so what right have we to use up all the land for our own ends.
MC: The government has wisely abandoned ‘zero carbon’ housing initiatives not least because the Royal Institute of British Architects calculated that it would add £50,000 build costs to a family home.
DT: As for the government wisely abandoning zero carbon housing initiatives because of costs it is stated in research carried out by the “Sweett Group for the Zero Carbon Hub” that current additional build costs of a semi-detached house are under £5,000 and it is expected that these will reduce to £3,500 by 2020. This seems to be very much at odds with the figure of £50,000 quoted by Michael.
MC: The green lobby has covered the country with useless windmills and forced up energy costs massively for factories and homes and is a major reason we recently lost our steel industry.
DT: The useless windmills that Michael refers to are currently along with other renewable sources such as solar power generating 21.6% of the UK’s electricity grid. A survey conducted by consultants for the parliamentary climate change committee states that the UK could be generating at least 65% of the UK’s demand by 2030, but only with sufficient investment. The main reason that the UK has all but lost its steel industry is almost entirely due to the flooding of the UK and European markets by cheap massively subsidised Chinese steel driving prices and down and meaning the UK’s steel industry is unable to compete. In short successive UK governments have allowed unfair competition to decimate our steel industry and have stood by and let it happen.
MC: Recent flooding is not caused by global warming, but by lack of river clearance in the green ‘biodiversity’ cause i.e. care of a few fresh water mussels and crayfish counts more than people’s lives.
DT: Whilst the recent flooding is not exclusively caused by global warming it contributes massively to the changes in our weather patterns and the repeat of 200 year flooding events 3 times in one decade is all the proof we need. Climate change sceptics need to wake up and smell the coffee. The other major factor in the recent floods in the north was the clearing of bogs on the moors by landowners to provide grouse shooting for the wealthy few. We must not overlook the fact that these floods were predicted and could have been reduced, if not fully prevented, had the government not cut the funding it had promised to deliver.
MC: The ‘no fracking’ group are following a similar route. There is a great opportunity or England with new sources of gas in a well regulated industry. This will provide reduced heating costs for our homes and factories as it has done abroad with no real risks.
DT: The ‘no fracking’ group are protecting us all from an inept industry, with no real regulation that will destroy our beautiful countryside and pollute our air, cause earthquakes, pollute our drinking water with a toxic mix of chemicals used to fracture the bedrock. Each well will use up to 5 million gallons of our precious clean water over its lifetime. The toxic mix will escape via split or deteriorating well casings and pollute our water supply and farmland, and once it is polluted there is no treatment that can remedy this. Also property values near to wells will be adversely affected. Need I go on, the scientific evidence is there for all to see from the USA and Australia where local communities are fighting back to ban fracking in a number of states now they can see the effects on their landscape and the massive risk to health it brings.
The reduction of heating costs from shale gas is a complete myth and the continued development of renewable energy sources will render this irrelevant. Most of the gas will be exported abroad once it has been produced anyway.
MC: We need many new homes and not just on expensive to reclaim brown field sites. The green lobby should recognise a period of silence from them would be a good idea.
DT: I agree we need to build many new ‘affordable and sustainable’ homes and doing this on brown field sites is much better than stealing green belt land for this purpose. To meet our commitment to the Paris Climate summit of limiting increase in global temperatures of no more than 1.5% much more is needed to be done by the government and every single one of us. Not just moving towards renewable energy sources but also reducing our consumption of the planets resources. Unless we all strive to reduce our usage of this planets resources it will all be too late sadly, not for us but for future generations.
It is only the green lobby speaking up that will save our planet from catastrophe.